Baguio smokers higher than national average – survey


Adult Tobacco Survey (BATS) conducted in 2016 revealed that 34% of adults in the city are smokers, higher than the national average of 23%. Moreover, there are more female smokers at 35.8% than men at 32.1%. In total, 89.1 % of the respondents said they last purchased a cigarette from a sari-sari store.

Half of the women or 50.9% are planning or are thinking about quitting compared to 57.3% of men. In terms of second-hand smoke, 15.2% of adults said they were exposed in restaurants and 10.3% said they got exposed while riding public transport.

Overall, 96% of adult smokers believe that the habit causes serious illness.

In a separate 2016 survey called Baguio City Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), it was found out that 20.72% of the 12-18 year old age group are smokers while 31.40% said they have tried smoking.

The survey also observed that the highest rates of their first smoke were at the ages of 14-15 years old. Meanwhile, 5.44% of the students who never had a cigarette in their life said they are likely to start smoking next year. One in every three students currently smoking said they want to quit.

Private and public sector alike are in an intensive campaign to eradicate the smoking habit in the city and achieve a “smoke-free Baguio.”

This is in line with the implementation of Ordinance No. 34-2017 prohibiting the use, sale, distribution of cigarette and other tobacco products in public utility vehicles, government-owned vehicles, accommodation and entertainment establishments, public buildings, public places, enclosed public spaces or any enclosed areas outside one’s private residence or private place of work except in duly designated smoking areas.

The ordinance amplifies Executive Order No. 26 that President Rodrigo Duterte signed in May putting into effect a nationwide smoking ban.

At the launch of the Smoke Free Philippines caravan on Thursday at the Igorot Park, Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) Director Ramil Saculles reported they have made 714 arrests from May to November 15.

He said that the health office has already approved the issuance of separate citation tickets to individuals violating the ordinance. “This is a very good approach para lahat po ay ma-ticket-an natin so that they can pay the necessary fine at the city treasury office,” he said.

Advocacy group Smoke Free Philippines thinks that another raise in cigarette sin tax is necessary. Communications Manager Carlos Garcia said the group is lobbying for the raise to be included in package one of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Bill. “There is a study that our income has increased, making cigarettes more affordable. We are still the second cheapest country in cigarette price. Experts say we will have 200,000 smokers every year if we don’t raise sin tax,” he said.

Leading causes of death in Baguio are all tobacco-related, according to BCHSO Tobacco Coordinator Dr. Donnabel Tubera. These are stroke, heart disease, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

By Iryll Sicnao